Borderline Personality Disorder is something so incredibly complex that no two suffers are exactly the same. There is a sliding scale of symptoms and different treatment options that work for BPD patients in many different ways.
For example, for me, one of the biggest triggers is rejection, whether it be real or something I perceive could happen at any moment. There is a ton of information out there, but the key is finding what works for you. In moments of distress, there are certain tactics that you can deploy to try and get ahead of the emotional influx before it becomes destructive.
The fact sheet I am going to show you is not something written by a Doctor or a Psychiatrist but from my experience with Borderline Personality Disorder and how I try to manage it on a daily basis and how it affects my daily life. I find for me, reading the same old things written by specialists in the field isn't always so helpful, because as I said earlier, the emotional rollercoaster of BPD is different for everyone.
We also have to face the reality that there is still an extremely negative stigma attached to Borderline Personality Disorder, even from the very people who are meant to be there to help. There are Doctors who won't accept BPD patients as they see them as a high suicide risk or "manipulative" which can in itself be another enormous trigger for people, leaving them feeling even more isolated and alone.
I have been in the Hospital many times and I, unfortunately, have had a range of traumatic experiences by the very people who are meant to help me. I have been talked about like I am not there, treated completely the opposite to someone presenting with a physical ailment and most of the time I leave feeling worse than when I went in.
1. Having Borderline Personality Disorder does not make you a bad person - This is something I struggle with a lot, thinking that I not a good person because I manage things differently to everyone else. The truth is, in fact, that I believe having BPD has led to me having the compassion and understanding of Mental Illness that I do today.
2. BPD patients are NOT dramatic attention seekers - Now this one is complex because many behaviours by someone suffering from BPD could be perceived by others as dramatic and attention seeking. It's not the best way to put it, but there are definitely examples of my behaviour that could be mistaken for "attention seeking" whereas the real emotion driving it is seeking validation. Absolutely there are times when someone may accelerate their behaviour to get this validation, but it's a very grey area when it comes to it being attributed to attention seeking.
3. BPD can make you feel unlovable - I recently had a great talk with someone who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and her greatest fear is that she will become "too much" and her partner will leave her. This is something both people involved have to face for there will always be an underlying fear that the person could leave, triggering that enormous sense of rejection. I still have dreams where I am desperately trying to stop someone leaving me but they won't listen, it's a frantic feeling of desperately wanting the person to listen and not to reject me. This bleeds into normal life and is what makes relationships incredibly hard to navigate at times
4. A lack of control over the intensity of emotions and emotional responses- As it was put but the World's Leading expert, "BPD sufferers have no emotional skin so to speak and thus are the psychological equivalent to a third-degree burns patient. Even the slightest touch or movement can cause immense suffering". This is by far one of the hardest aspects of BPD for both myself and my loved ones. To give an example, my best friend of 17 years outright rejected me via text and has never spoken to me since. She was at the time and for many years, the person who I looked up to the most in the world and felt the safest with. As BPD patients tend to put people on pedestals, for me, losing this friendship and the emotional response was like she had died. Although logical people were giving me advice, I felt the emotion of loss and rejection on such a scale that I still struggle with it three years later. What someone who does not suffer from BPD may rank the emotion as a 5, I would rank it as a 15. The intensity and lack of control over emotions is something that is a daily struggle for everyone involved. Not only did I have to deal with the extreme level of distress, but I replayed a million scenarios and scenes back in my mind. How could I be so oblivious of my own behaviour that I could not see it coming? It made me feel crazy and I spiralled downhill with an enormous sense of self-hatred and blame.
5. Trauma - There is almost always a significant trauma attached to the past of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, but this is not exclusive. I was sexually assaulted in a violent attack when I was 16 years old. I also experienced the neglect of my father after my parent's divorce and the rejection of my two elder brothers. My world suddenly went from being a family of 6 to me having my sister and mother has my primary family relationships. This meant that after I was assaulted, I had no male influence or attachment that I could turn too, which resulted in me never mentioning the assault until about 3 years ago in therapy. Trauma itself is such a complex concept and thus presents differently in every person. For example, someone may experience extreme childhood trauma that does not lead to significant Mental Health issues in the future. What I am saying is there is no formula for Borderline Personality Disorder. There are so many variables that go into how we grow up and what potential issues we may or may not face.
6. Borderline Personality Disorder can be easily misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all - My own example of this is back in 2010 when my life and Mental Health became extremely chaotic. I attempted suicide and self-harmed in a serious way for the first time. I was referred to an extremely well-known institute, where after 45 minutes, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II. Being far better versed in Mental Health by then, I couldn't see how this was possible. Taking away the fact that I had never seen this Doctor in my life and he had little or no knowledge of my past, such a serious diagnosis just did not fit with all the research I had done myself on Bipolar versus Borderline Personality Disorder. It was the fact that I had so much knowledge of Mental Health and of course my own behaviours and past that I challenged this diagnoses and was thankfully referred to another Psychiatrist who I eventually saw weekly for the next 7 years. He was hesitant to formally put a name to it and I am grateful for that because he took his time as did I, exploring all the dark corners of my past and present before making the diagnoses.
7. Borderline Personality Disorder is commonly intertwined with other Mental Health illnesses - This is referred to as co-morbid illnesses where they exist alongside one another. For me, it is Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is this element that makes BPD so hard to treat in conjunction with these other serious conditions. Pharmacologically there are no "pills" for Borderline Suffers, but usually, the medication element is to treat the co-morbid Mental Health issues that exist. This is only my personal experience, for there are many other Mental Health illnesses that someone who has BPD could also be suffering.
So there you have it, my own "Borderline Personality Disorder Fact Sheet". Being such a complex illness for me I feel it sits in the middle and the offshoots are the depression and anxiety that I deal with every day. It still scares me when my mood shifts so quickly and I can literally feel the distress level rising. This is where everyone's own personal BPD toolkit comes into play.
BPD is a lonely disease, the very nature of it causes self-isolation and the inability to "fit in" anywhere. There are so many times when I wish I could go back to my younger self and explain what was happening. Life was so confusing to me all the time, never having my sense of self and a place in the world and not understanding why.